SLR School

First One-day Introductory and Refresher Course on Satellite and Lunar Laser Ranging

Prior to the 2019 ILRS Workshop, the ILRS scheduled a one-day introductory course to give non-practitioners in SLR an opportunity to broaden their knowledge about laser ranging to Earth-orbiting satellites and the Moon. The course also provided attendees with some experience in the field an opportunity to refresh and strengthen their knowledge and increase their appreciation of this powerful measurement technique that supports geoscience and applications. The course was scheduled for Sunday, October 20, 2019, in Stuttgart, Germany, just prior to the 2019 ILRS Technical Workshop. The program for this one-day "SLR School" is provided below.

Talks were given in a tutorial format, with time for questions and discussion. Interested parties were able to attend the school with or without participating in the Workshop.

Tutorials differed in length depending on the topic, but each session left ample time for questions and discussion. Seminars were given at the level of a non-expert, recognizing that we expect people to attend who are not currently working in the field, but are curious, as well as people who are newly involved in laser ranging, but need to broaden their current level of understanding.

The one-day SLR School was a great way for attendees to get an overview of an important component of the space geodesy measurement constellation.

Organizers distributed a survey to participants at the conclusion of the school. The results have been collated into a summary spreadsheet. Conclusions and recommendations for future SLR Schools will be available in the near future.

This one-day event proved to be an opportunity for participants to obtain an overall view of satellite laser ranging and was the first time that such a school had been offered. The ILRS plans to hold these types of instructional sessions in the future.


The following icons are used for the on-line SLR School documentation:

abstract icon
Link to presentation
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Link to video recording of the presentation

Session 01: Introduction to the Satellite Laser Ranging Technique
09:00 - 10:30 Mike Pearlman Introduction
    link to John Degnan's presentation

link to video of Part 1 of Degnan's presentation
link to video of Part 2 of Degnan's presentation

Part 1

Part 2
John Degnan Satellite laser ranging
  • Ground segment: laser, detector, event timers, tracking telescopes, meteorological stations, safety radars, ground calibration target
  • Space segment: retroreflector tutorial, array design considerations (total cross-section and link budgets, observation symmetry, minimizing pulse spread)
  • Overview of ground system and network evolution to achieve maximum range accuracy (1964 to present)
  • Overview of SLR contributions to Earth science and engineering applications
  • Ranging to the Moon and planets (intro to LLR and transponders)
    link to Toore and Currie's presentation link to video of Torre and Currie presentation Jean-Marie Torre
Doug Currie
Lunar laser ranging
  • Ground segment: how is LLR different from SLR?
  • Space segment: lunar retroreflector, current and planned
  • History of LLR and its impact on SLR
  • LLR contribution to science
  • Challenges of LLR
10:30 - 11:00   Break
Session 02: Data Analysis
    link to the SLR School session 2 introduction presentation   Session 2 Introduction
11:00 - 12:30 link to the SLR School session 2 Noll presentation link to video of Noll presentation Carey Noll Role and function of the Data Centers | Handout of useful links
    link to the SLR School session 2 Kehm presentation link to video of Kehm presentation Alex Kehm Data analysis demonstration - data download and normal point computation
    link to the SLR School session 2 Blosfeld presentation link to video of Blossfeld's presentation Mathis Bloßfeld Analyzing of SLR observations - what do we do with the data?
    link to the SLR School session 2 Thaller presentation link to video of Thaller presentation Daniela Thaller Reference frames and geodetic products
12:30 - 13:00   Lunch
Session 03: Corrections and Error Sources
13:00 - 15:00 link to first Rodriguez presentation link to video of Rodriguez presentation José Rodríguez What corrections do we add to our basic range data? Where do they come from?
    link to the first Prochazka presentation link to video of first Prochazka presentation Ivan Procházka How do we calibrate and to get the most accurate data products; what are error sources?
    link to Prochazka presentation 2 link to video of second Prochazka presentation Ivan Procházka Accurate timing; how do we get it? How good is it? What improvements are coming?
    link to Eckl's presentation link to video of Eckl presentation Johann Eckl The importance of ground surveys and how we do them
    link to Rodriguez presentation on center of Mass corrections José Rodríguez Spacecraft center of mass modeling: modeling considerations and operational issues
15:00 - 15:30   Break
Session 04: Station Operations and Other Applications of Satellite Laser Ranging
15:30 - 17:00 Matt Wilkinson A view of station operations; how do we work?
  • Operations from acquiring predictions, ranging, calibration, submitting data
  • Meteorology data, clock synchronization, local QC, system maintenance, record keeping, etc.
  • Good practices, etc.
    link to Wilkinson NESC Forum presentation Matt Wilkinson Networks and Engineering Standing Committee FORUM
    limk to Sherwood presentation link to video of Sherwood presentation Robert Sherwood SLR tracking: Basic requirements and aids to success
    link to Wilkinson's In Sky Safety presentation link to video of first Wilkinson presentation Matt Wilkinson In-sky safety for Satellite laser ranging
    link to Bauer presentation link to video of Bauer presentation Sven Bauer Building a SLR Station in 2019
    link to session 4 Steindorfer presentation link to video of Steindorfer presentation Michael Steindorfer Space debris, technique and applications
17:00 - 17:30     Wrap up